How I learned to breathe through my fears.

By Mary Murphy, Photo courtesy of Yoga Pod Austin

Amid the hustle and bustle of the intersection of MoPac Expressway and Hwy.183 lies a quaint, colorful yoga studio: Yoga Pod. Yoga Pod is a vibrant yoga community redefining fitness and forging a sustainable, intentional yoga practice through breath, strength and sweat. From the podBasics and podFlow 1 to podFit and podHot, Yoga Pod classes are built for all levels, making it the ideal place to take my first yoga class.

After anxiously walking through the front door, I encountered a peaceful color palette and smiling faces. A sense of serenity washed over me as tranquil music lulled in the background. As I checked myself in and sheepishly admitted I had never done yoga before, the staffs’ eyes lit up with glee. I felt welcomed and wanted, a reaction I wasn’t fully expecting, as I’m not a seasoned yogi like many Austinites. I was instructed to remove my shoes and was guided through the building for a tour.

I was struck with surprise when I was ushered toward the bathroom as stop No. 1. Expecting, well, a bathroom, I entered a spa-like oasis. Not only were lockers offered for guests to use, but there were private showers to boot. The counter was lined with an array of beauty products offered free for guests. From hair ties and razors to makeup wipes and hairspray, the studio offers everything you need to primp after class.

I toured the various studios, including the “hot room.” As soon as I set foot in the space, I could feel the rise in temperature. I was impressed to learn the room can reach 105 degrees during class time. The podHot classes are designed to build strength, create balance and flexibility, and produce a detoxifying sweat. I politely smiled to the brave souls about to start their podHot class and made my way to the studio where I would take my class, podBasics.

With mat, towel and water in tow, I settled into the space I would share with my four other classmates for the next hour. Our instructor greeted us individually as we entered the studio and prepared music for class. Though I felt completely out of place and terrified about how stupid I would look, I soon felt at ease with the studio’s calm aesthetics. Sunlight poured through the plant-etched windows onto the beautiful light-wood floors. The time had come that I had both eagerly awaited and secretly dreaded: the start of class.

Our instructor went through what our class would entail and how various levels of poses would be introduced. I let out a sigh of relief knowing I wouldn’t be expected to perform all the same poses or movements as some of the more experienced students. Throughout the lesson, our instructor emphasized how everyone is different and that our bodies are too. She reassured us to accept our bodies and their capabilities and to do what felt most comfortable to us. My confidence wavered as I made a basic movement or pose and then challenged myself to the more advanced versions. I couldn’t do any of them, but that was OK.

We were instructed to focus on our breathing, and I can honestly say the idea that my breathing could affect my mind and body seemed absurd—until I actually tried it. As I focused on my breath, I was no longer holding onto poses for dear life; I was breathing through them. When I felt my body could go no further, I found exhaling and trying just a little harder could make a huge difference. That was an important takeaway from my first class, that small changes can lead to big differences.

During the course of the class, my thoughts switched from how foolish I looked compared with everyone else and that I would never come back to being patient with myself and signing up for another class next week. I learned yoga is truly for anyone looking to better his or her body, discipline and self-acceptance. Yoga Pod completely went above and beyond my expectations. The company’s current summer promotion of 30 days for $30 put any hesitation out of my mind to sign up for more classes. As they say in yoga class, namaste!


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